it's a major award
While it has been interesting to read all of the different solutions to dividing up the Big 10 (12) into two divisions and what the seasons will be like, my thought is that the powers who will actually decide this will do in the simplest way possible, that is, through geography. Thus:
Big 10 East
Big 10 West
Each team will play every divisional opponent every year = 5 games
Each team will play teams from the other division every other year = 3 games
The winner of the each division plays in the championship game = 1 game
[Edit] Four non-conference games = 4 games
[Edit] Total = 13 games
You ensure that the final game of the season is always a divisional game, possibly a rivalry game. The powers that be will ignore the strength advantage (disadvantage?) that the Big 10 East has in favour of reduced travel costs for all the teams, both revenue and non-revenue. If anything, the three top teams in each division battling it out to get to the conference game will be a plus. This approach preserves rivalries and avoids seeing conference championship games between rivals in back to back weeks.
Finally, it seems aesthetically correct to divide them this way. It is a simple, straightforward approach has a likelihood of taking root and developing new rivalries, especially in the West…at least until we go to 16 teams and four four-team divisions and a two round conference playoff. (This will eventually happen; the demand for dollars will demand more TV markets, whether sooner or later).
[EDIT] FWIW ... This is pretty much how they do it in the SEC...
Since we are willing to now consider Big 10 (11) expansion beyond 12 teams to any and all possibilities, and Brian encouraged this sort of wild speculation, it seems to me that some configuration of 18 teams makes the most sense. We become the Big 18. The solution is actually quite simple. The base schedule is 11 games + conference playoffs. You create three six team divisions, based on geography. Within the division, you play each team once per season (5 games). You allow one non-conference creampuff/tune up game at the beginning of the schedule. The rest of the games must be arranged exclusively with other conference members (5 games) at the discretion of the schools. This would allow certain teams to arrange rivalry games every year. It would also increase the conference strength of schedule. (If the Big 10 gets out in front of this, if college football evolves into three, or perhaps four, 18 team super-conferences, it means we get first choice of available schools and thus assuring no current or former mid-majors end up in the Big 18). It will also encourage more home and home non-divisional series.
Big 18 Western Division
Big 18 Central Division
Big 18 Eastern Division
(I picked the schools with an eye to football and basketball, especially the Eastern Division, which would be the weakest football division but likely will be the strongest basketball division).
When all 10 Big 18 conference games are done, the winner of each division moves on to the conference playoffs and there is one wildcard team (some formula would have to be worked out to resolve wildcard ties if two divisional winners have the same record, but that would be a small problem. The NFL manages it every year). Then there is a two game playoff:
Best Record vs. Widcard
2nd Best Record vs. 3rd Best Record
The winner of those two games play each other and is crowned Big 18 champion, and will be a strong candidate to play in the national championship game every year.
The carrot that would induce teams to give up one regular season game each year would be a TV revenue sharing agreement so that all teams would benefit equally from the playoffs in terms of revenue. The downside is that you do not get as much opportunity to play other big conference schools, as that one non-conference game will be used as a pre-season tune up game, like played against a baby seal team. Bowl games could make up for that a little.
If this were to induce a move to three or perhaps four mega conferences, you could then follow the conference schedule with one of two playoff structures:
Best Team – Bye Week
Number 2 vs. Number 3
Winner of 2vs.3 plays number 1 for the national championship.
Best Team vs. Number 4
Number 2 vs. Number 3
Winners of those games play for the national championship.
The national championship is played at the Rose Bowl in the evening of New Year’s Day.
The teams would be seeded according to wins and if the conference winners have an equal number of wins that some formula (to be determined) is used to seed the three or four teams. The upside of this is that football is decided on the field and leaves voting out of the equation. The downside is that college football starts to look like the NFL.
You could still allow schools to arrange bowl games as consolations, and to sort out some of the conference strength nonsense (perhaps you could base seeding in next year’s national championship, in the event that two conference winners have the same record, on the respective record of the conferences in the bowl games. This would give a little more meaning to the bowl games). If people want to watch bowl games, why not put them on TV.
As the story broke and as reports, clarifications, comments, support, etc. has come rolling in, and as I have tried to digest all of it including your comments, I have tried to wrap my head around the motivations of the two "reporters" [and I use that term loosely] at the FP. I asked myself what is it that motivates two UM alums to do this type of "gotcha" journalism? In these types of instances, the best thing to do is to look for the "common cold," as opposed to bizarre theories. Here is my conclusion:
1. Given that both these men were opposed to Coach Rodriguez being hired and that, even giving them the benefit of the doubt about their desire to seek what is best for the program, that there article is a deliberate attempt here to take down Coach Rodriguez, to get him fired, make him resign, etc. That is the big motive.
2. Given the timing of this article, it also seems to be an attempt to put any achievements of the coach under a cloud. This is not meant as a benefit to the program, to clean it up, reform it, etc. It is not just an attack on Coach Rodriguez with the goal to get rid of him, it is also an attack on his record. Just has he is potentially on the verge of turning this program around, these two writers have planted the seed: Coach Rodriguez only wins because he is a cheat. His "work hard" mantra is well known back to WVU, and the implication here is that he has only been able to win by violating the amount of time he "requires" from his players.
It used to be standard thinking that once the program started winning, Coach Rodriguez would be embraced by all and would finally become a "Michigan Man." By trying to pin the label of "cheater" on him, these two, who shall not be named, are, in my opinion, trying to forever prevent "the Hick" from becoming "one of us." By casting these aspersions, they can dismiss, even if only in their own minds, his success as the ill-gotten gain of cheating that does nothing but taint this fine institution. Even if he wins, now, he loses.
Without this, they know that sooner or later he will win, and when he wins, he will be embraced. And if everyone else embraces him, they will be expected to as well, something they could never do. "The Hick" will never be one of "us." Thus the smear campaign. It does not matter whether or not there is any truth to the allegations. As in most Main Stream Media, all that matters is the "Seriousness of the Charge." All that will matter is that the allegations are out there and that they can keep coming back to this hinting that even if the NCAA finds nothing that there must be some violation there because, after all, no one would make a charge this serious unless there was substance to it. The cloud will remain, not because it has any basis in truth, but because of the seriousness of the charge.
If this were politics we would call it the "politics of personal destruction." It is reprehensible, even in politics, more so in something as superfluous as sports. As I watched Coach Rodriguez, obviously hurting, seemingly in complete disbelief that someone would charge that he would harm his athletes, I was furious watching a good man being systematically attacked, "destroyed," and knowing that he was completely helpless to stop this circus. Because in the end, it does not matter that the charges stick or not, all that matters is the cloud that the accusation creates. He has been tainted in their eyes and no matter what evidence is brought to counter this charge, they will hold the charge over his head in perpetuity. That cloud says: “Cheater.” It makes me sick to my stomach.
Since we have now come to the conclusion that there is nothing to talk about, it is time to go Seinfeld at the blog and talk about nothing. Here is my little bit of “nothing.”
Have you noticed your posting habits changing because of the points system? Perhaps I am just a hyper-competitive type, but I know where I rank in terms of "Users by mgopoints" [you know you have checked...be honest]. To put it in football terms that most can relate to here, I am a "Top 25" user by mgopoints. My actual ranking is 21 [EDIT: currently 20th; EDIT: T-19th], and I have jumped two positions in the last couple of days. I know this says something about me and I am pretty sure what it is...but one can only be so vulnerable in a post like this.
For me, if I have a something to say, I now say it. I used to pass over threads and keep my thoughts to myself and would be content to go months on the sidelines. I am more willing now to invest a few seconds/minutes/hours in actually writing something to post in a Diary/Forum. Previously, after a quiescent period, I would then I would jump in and post up a storm for a couple of months before receding back into the shadows. Usually my busiest posting period would be in my slow work period, in real estate sales that is the fall/winter.
As I have noted my own habits changing, it seems to me [without empirical evidence] that there is a greater profusion of Forum posts and there is certainly more Diaries being posted [this one included], and less and less of them are about substantive football issues. I will admit a little guilt in this regard, but have also been open to the advice of fellow mgobloggers in terms of putting my “Best by the Numbers” series in the Forum. Do you get the sense that people have more incentive to post because they receive points for the post? I sense that they do. [By the time this is done it will be long enough for a Diary post…so…why not?] Posting has been incentivised and any time you offer incentives for a certain behaviour, the amount of that activity will increase. Perhaps tighter standards [the top quartile of users by mgopoints can start threads] would control the profusion of off topic and repetitive topics, but that might further incentivise posting.
On the other hand, perhaps all of this profusion of topic formation is good for Brian in that it increases the number of page views and thus his income. Perhaps he is incentivised to allow posting to increase to a point where he reaches that critical mass/economies of scale point where any more profusion of topics decreases page counts? Perhaps he needs to hand off Forum/Diary administrative duties to some others [self serving plug: top 10, 20, 25 users by mgopoints?].?
I am also a little more careful in posts. Heaven forbid that I do a “BlueFront.” I do also think that the point system and the voting system, as much as I dislike the anonymity and lack of specificity of down votes—that is, you often don’t know who is voting against what and why—has resulted in a greater degree of civility. People seem to be watching their tongues a little bit, avoiding obviously inflammatory exchanges and in spite of my philosophical objections seems to be a success in the area of civility.
So what do you think? There is really nothing else to talk about now. We might as well turn in a do a little naval gazing.
As promised, and suggested, that there be a summary diary post of the winner for best player for each jersey number in this ongoing series I have begun to undertake, this is the first for numbers 91-99 [If I was doing it in reverse I would be going 1-10, 11-20 and so forth] and there is a mix of legends and role players in this set. For two of the numbers, I felt that the top two players were close enough that they deserved to be tied. The Mack/O’Neil tie was a hard one, as O’Neil’s accomplishments were better at Michigan, but how can one fail to call Mack one of the best players ever to put on a Michigan uniform when he started to emerge in his senior year only to become one of the best players at is position ever in the NFL. As for Dyson/Williams the differences between them in terms of their calibre and contribution make it hard to choose between them. I give them the tie.
So far, this has been a fun exercise, and will get more fun as the numbers get smaller. It is more difficult when there are no standouts, but I have learned a lot about many of the program’s fine role players. Many thanks to the Bentley Historical Library, whose database makes this all possible and for Wikipedia, both sites provided much of the bulk of the bio information and stats.
Here they are:
Michigan’s Best by Jersey Number
99 Pierre Woods, DL, OLB, 2001-2005 [wore # 96 in 2001]
As a senior in 2005, played in all 12 games and made five starts at linebacker and made 24 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, three sacks, one pass breakup and two forced fumbles. In 2004, played in 12 games, recording 22 tackles, one tackle for loss and one fumble recovery. As a sophomore in 2003 he had 68 tackles and led team with 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks and was Second-team All-Big Ten after starting all 13 games at outside linebacker. He appeared in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman and did not see any action as a freshman. He was signed as a rookie free agent to the New England Patriots in 2006
98 Tom Harmon, HB, 1938-1940
There was only one player to wear this number in the history of Michigan Football, one of only five retired jersey numbers. This gentleman was a All-American in both 1939 and 1940 and winner of the Heisman Trophy in 1940. As a Halfback, he rushed for 2,134 yards. He led college football in scoring in both 1939 and 1940, a feat that has not been repeated in the history of college football. He also spent time under center, completing 100 passes for 1,304 yards. During his career he played all 60 minutes 8 times. He also was a member of the varsity basketball team for two years. Wikipedia recounts his final game:
"In his final football game, against Ohio State he led the Wolverines to a 40-0 victory, scoring three rushing touchdowns, two passing touchdowns, four extra points, intercepting three passes, and punting three times for an average of 50 yards. In an unprecedented display of sportsmanship and appreciation, the Ohio State fans in Columbus gave him a standing ovation at game's end. No Wolverine player has been so honored since."
97 Chris Hutchinson, DT, 1989-1992
He started for 38 games as a DT and his best season was 1992, his senior year, where he set the single season record for sack yardage  and tied for number of sacks in a season . He is second on the career sack list with 24 for 188 yards. He was co-captain and team MVP for the year. In addition to earning Big Ten Lineman of the Year and All-American honours for athletics, he was an exemplary student, a three time Academic All Big-Ten award winner, earning both the Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Scholarship Award (given to the team's leading senior scholar), and an NCAA post-graduate scholarship which he used to attend UM Medical School. Here is a man who embodies all the best of what we think when the word "student athlete" comes to mind.
T-96 Calvin O’Neal, LB, 1973-1976
Calvin was twice named All-Big Ten and was a consensus All-American. A co-captain on the 1976 team that was ranked #1 for eight weeks, he was a team leader on defence, setting a season record with 151 tackles in 1975, and had a record 278 tackles for his career. O'Neal combined strength and speed from his inside linebacking spot, making 10 tackles for losses his last two seasons. He also had three interceptions, one a pick-six. He went on to join the Baltimore Colts of the National Football League.
T-96 Thomas Mack, E, 1963-65
Following high school, Mack decided to attend the University of Michigan where he earned a degree in engineering. When asked why he chose Michigan over the logical home-state choice Ohio State he explained, “Ohio State never offered me a scholarship. Michigan was the only major college that offered me one.'' Initially, Mack struggled at Michigan just to stay on the traveling squad. Then, in his junior year he was converted to an interior lineman where he earned a starting role as a tackle. That year Michigan won all but one game and went on to beat Oregon State 34-7 in the Rose Bowl. The following year he was selected All-Big Ten and named second team All-American. He went on to be one of the best linemen ever to play the game, going to 11 pro-bowls and was named all-pro 9 times and is one of only 6 Michigan players to make it to the NFL Hall of Fame.
95 Curtis Greer, DT, 1976-1979
Greer left in 1979 with the honour of being the school's all-time leader in tackles for losses. The cat-quick lineman registered 48 tackles for losses during his Wolverine career for 234 yards. His 23 hits behind the line of scrimmage for losses totalling 107 yards in 1979 established a school seasonal record. He was an All-American selection in 1979 and an All-Big Ten choice in both 1978 and 1979. He was drafted in the first round of the 1980 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals where he gained a starting berth in his first season.
94 Jason Horn, DT, 1992-1995
He was an All-American defensive tackle who played team from 1992-1995. Horn played in 48 games over four years at the University of Michigan, compiling 169 tackles, 18 tackles for loss (for -136 yards), and 24 sacks (for -184 yards). He was named a first-team All-American in 1995. He was a two-time first team All-Big Ten selection. In 1995, Horn had 11 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss, setting a Michigan single season record with 122 yards of tackles for loss yardage. He finished as Michigan's second all-time leader in quarterback sacks (24), third in sack yardage (184), third in career tackles for loss (39) and second in tackles for loss yardage (236).
93 Sam Sword, ILB, 1995-1998
Swords' 265 career tackles ranks third in school history. He went on to play for the Raiders and the Colts in the NFL.
92 Dan Rumishek, RLB, 1998-02
Eventually went on to play Arena Football for the Columbus Destroyers
T-91 Matt Dyson, OLB, 1990-1994
Dyson was twice selected to the All Big-Ten Conference First Team and once to the Second Team. In 1992, he was selected as a second team All-American. In 1994, he was selected as the Defensive MVP of the Holiday Bowl. In 1995, the Oakland Raiders drafted him in the fifth round. Currently he is the head football coach George Mason University.
T-91 Josh Williams, DT, 1995-1999
Williams was drafted in the fourth round (122nd pick overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Colts. He played for the 1997 National Championship winning team. During his time at Michigan, he started 34 career games and played in recording 159 career tackles (96 solo, 63 assists), 28 Tackles for a loss (131 yards) and 11 sacks (79 yards).
NOTE: If anyone is willing to e-mail me the bits of html for posting pictures and video, I may edit and add some stuff later. If you are able to uncover bio information that I have not been able to unearth, please share it with me and I will update the entry. Also, if you dig up cool stuff, I am not above adding it to give this feature some punch. My address: stevebaarda [at] rogers [dot] com
At this number it seems the far and away favourite would have to be Chris Hutchinson. He started for 38 games as a DT and his best season was 1992, his senior year, where he set the single season record for sack yardage  and tied for number of sacks in a season . He is second on the career sack list with 24 for 188 yards. He was co-captain and team MVP for the year. In addition to earning Big Ten Lineman of the Year and All-American honours for athletics, he was an exemplary student, a three time Academic All Big-Ten award winner, earning both the Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Scholarship Award (given to the team's leading senior scholar), and an NCAA post-graduate scholarship which used to attend UM Medical School. Here is a man who embodies all the best of what we think when the word "student athlete" comes to mind. Does anyone else have any other suggestions?
Here is the list of #97's
97 Boyden, Joel M. T 1957
97 Grein, Wilfred J. T 1958
97 Doersam, Paul H. T 1959
97 Frontczak, Stanley N. G 1962-64
97 Berline, James E 1965-67
97 Moore, Edward M. LB 1968-70
97 Armour, James OG 1971
97 Perlinger, Jeff DT 1972-74
97 Taylor, Robert J. MG 1976-77
97 Jackson, Jeffrey OLB 1978
97 Kelsie, Tony MG 1979-80
97 Needham, Ben ILB 1981
97 Shimko, Martin OLB / DT 1982-84
97 Holland, Joseph H. OLB 1985-88
97 Mandel, Dave TE 1985-87
97 Hutchinson, Chris DT 1989-92
97 Holtry, Jeff OLB 1994
97 Ziemann, Chris DL 1995-96
97 Ostrom, Lance TE 1997
97 Lazarus, Shawn DE-DL 1998-2002
97 Perl, Luke K 2001-03
97 Johnson, Will DT 2004-08
97 Pollock, Max OLB 2004-05
97 Schrimscher, Scott PK 2007-08